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The science behind muffin baking – and the best healthy muffin recipe

healthy muffin recipe

Muffins are a staple in many runners' diets. They're a quick and easy on-the-go snack, and if you pick the right ingredients, can be jam-packed with nutrients and energy. This week, The Kitchen Vixen explains the science behind the basic muffin, and how ingredients like eggs, flour, and baking powder work together. She also gives you tips on how to improvise with what you have on hand to bake the perfect healthy muffin — from traditional to vegan to gluten-free.

Jump to the recipes: Basic muffin | Improv gluten-free vegan pumpkin muffins

When you're hungry, and you're active, and you're really, really busy, sometimes even too busy to go to the store, that's the time when you need to practice the art of improvisation.

Most of us probably think of improvisation in terms of acting or comedy routines, but if you look at your own life, I'm positive you will find many instances you improv.

Think about your best laid plans for your career, saving money, following an exercise routine or sticking to a diet. We often have plans as to how we will meet our goals in all of these aspects of life, but as the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I did a little research to learn that that quote comes from a Robert Burns poem about a man who accidentally plows over a mouse's home at a time of year when it is too late for the mouse to rebuild. So even though that diligent little mouse built his shelter in time, it was destroyed. Burns tries to assure the mouse that he will be ok, that his fear is only in the present compared to Burn's own regrets of the past and fear of the future.

In the end, none of us knows what lies ahead. We can plan and prepare all we want, but hopefully, over our lifetimes, we learn not only how to plan and prepare, but also how to take whatever comes our way.

When it comes to nourishing our bodies, it helps to understand the fundamentals of cooking and nutrition. With this basic knowledge you can improvise some sort of nourishment to at least get you through your present tasks and provide you with good energy to take you to your uncertain, yet inevitable future.

Two types of recipes that I love to improvise are muffins, and soups or stews. With these two basic recipes, you can make big batches and really nourish your body for at least the next five days, longer if you freeze leftovers for later.

First, let me explain the very basic ratios of ingredients for these types of recipes. Knowing the basic formula of certain types of recipes means that you should be able to make sustaining and sustainable energy sources out of whatever you have on hand, not just what a specific recipe requires.

For example, if you glance at the muffin recipes below, you may notice that the ratios of a basic muffin recipe, including fruit, are about 2